October 11, 2005

Beat the petrol price hikes, catch a bus. Or so we're advised.

I have never driven a car in my life, although I currently co-own one - with chauffeur, naturellement, is there any other way of owning a car worthwhile? I have always lived in places (Antwerpen, London) where public transport was abundant and, if not cheap, convenient to use. Not so in Auckland, which notoriously has a reputation, even among its own citizens, of having one of the worst public transport systems in the developed world. The upshot is that as soon as any adolescent hits 15, they want to join the car owning public and clog the roads even more. A policy to up the driving age to 18 would be met by rioting in the streets. No doubt about that, even though that would be a public policy priority that needed implementing sooner rather than later. I'm digressing a bit but wouldn't putting all those 16 year olds on bicycles fight obesity far more effectively than any amount of fast food tax? And think of all those firm-thighed lycra-clad young men that would be racing around town. More fetching than the current crop of overweight boy racers in their souped up and lowered gas guzzlers who blight downtown and get in the way of the bus.
Which brings me back to my plight of having to use this really crappy public transport system. For the last couple of years they have been installing this GPS-driven system of indicator boards at bus stops, which are supposed to state how long it will take for the next bus to arrive. Relying on it has been fraught so far, since it has a permanent warning that the "system is under test". You can see the entries count down the minutes before the bus is supposed to be there until it switches to "DUE", followed several minutes later by "DLY" and then disappears off the board without a bus ever showing. I think "DUE" stands for: maybe some time in the future, and "DLY" for: come back tomorrow, sucker.

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